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The House 1/6 Vote Is Worse Than It Looks
If you don't kill the filibuster over this, then what?
It’s Thursday, so it’s TNB. Come hang out with me and Sarah and Charlie and Amanda tonight at 8:00 p.m. Only for Bulwark+ members. We’re going to talk about that vote. And I promise to bring the crushing morosity.
1. The House 1/6 Commission Vote
On TNL yesterday I set the line for number of Republican House members to vote for the January 6 commission at 27.5. My best friend pounded the over—and she was right!
Thirty-five Republicans voted for the commission—35! That’s great. Truly, it makes me happy. Better 35 Republicans than 34 Republicans. Or 24. Or 4.
So: Good news.
Or at least, that’s one way of looking at it.
Here is another way of looking at it: 175 Republicans voted against the creation of a commission to investigate and document a violent insurrection against Congress itself which sought to overturn a presidential election.
And here is another way: 83 percent of Republicans voted against the commission.
That’s an increase over the 139 Republicans—or 66 percent—who voted against the counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6.
So yes, 35 Republicans voting for the 1/6 commission is very nice. But directionally, it looks like the power of the anti-democratic caucus is gaining in strength, not diminishing.
2. Kill the Filibuster
I am very sympathetic to the argument that Democrats should be pursuing compromise and not simply ramming through Their Entire Radical Socialist Wish List. Compromise is the optimal outcome; certainly better than nuking the filibuster, forging ahead, and letting the chips fall where they may.
But here’s the thing: Democrats have been pursuing compromise. They have not pushed a Radical Socialist Wish List. Is DC a state? Does the SCOTUS have 9 justices? Where’s the public option? How’s that Green New Deal coming?
It is simply a statement of fact that Democrats have sublimated the most polarizing parts of their agenda in favor of the most broadly acceptable parts: COVID relief and infrastructure.
It is also undeniably true that Democrats are trying to compromise. Maybe not always and everywhere. Maybe not to the extent that Republicans would deem perfect. But consider the January 6 commission bill:
McCarthy initially empowered one of his allies, moderate Rep. John Katko of New York, to cut a bipartisan deal with his Democratic counterpart on an independent, 9/11 style commission to investigate the deadly Capitol riots. But when Katko ultimately struck an agreement, which included most of McCarthy’s demands, the GOP leader balked at the plan.
Democrats didn’t need to compromise on the commission. They had the votes. But they compromised anyway. They gave Republicans just about everything they asked for. And Republican leadership turned against the bill just the same.
I have two questions for people who want to fight the authoritarian caucus, but also want to keep the filibuster in place:
If this bill can’t get 10 Republican votes in the Senate, then what are the odds that any Democratic compromise on any policy legislation can possibly get to 10?
If you aren’t willing to kill the filibuster over the 1/6 commission, then what would you be willing to kill it over?
One of our political parties is trying to lower the temperature in American politics and find compromise on pretty basic issues. The other party is trying to restrict voting and lay the predicate for overturning the electoral results of the next presidential election.
The 1/6 commission bill makes this very clear. If the filibuster allows the party that incited the insurrection to prevent Congress from forming a nonpartisan commission to investigate and document the insurrection, then what, really, is the benefit of keeping the filibuster?
Because if you cannot get 10 Republican votes in the Senate for a 1/6 commission, then there is no conceivable way to get 10 Republican votes in the Senate for infrastructure. Or voting rights. Or any other piece of meaningful legislation.
Again: Compromise is great. I wish we could get back to the politics of horse-trading. But that does not seem to be an option right now for a simple, single reason: Because one political party will not allow it. Which leaves us in a world of less-than-perfect options.
One of those options is to kill the filibuster and then pass some important legislation, understanding that there will be negative downstream consequences.
Another option is to allow the filibuster to kill every Democratic proposal, even if it has clear majority support. Even if it is a good-faith attempt to document an insurrection which sought to overthrow a free and fair election.
I’m pretty sure I know which one is the least bad.
3. UFO Redux
As I said yesterday, there are certainly many causes of UFOs. Some are hoaxes, some are meteorological oddities, some are truly not explicable with our current knowledge base.
But over at the Drive, they argue that some of them are almost certainly low-tech drones operated by our geostrategic competitors:
Our team here at The War Zone has spent the last two years indirectly laying out a case for the hypothesis that many of the events involving supposed UFOs, or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), as they are now often called, over the last decade are actually the manifestation of foreign adversaries harnessing advances in lower-end unmanned aerial vehicle technology, and even simpler platforms, to gather intelligence of extreme fidelity on some of America's most sensitive warfighting capabilities. . . .
[W]e were the first to connect key technologies that had emerged around the time that sightings of certain types of mysterious UAPs began to accelerate amongst military personnel—in particular, Navy fighter pilots. This was largely based around new air defense data-fusion and networking capabilities being installed on Navy warships and aircraft, as well as the proliferation of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars on Navy fighters and airborne early warning and control planes. We also noted that the most remarkable appearances of these objects seemed to correlate with major Navy exercises where these advances in air defense capabilities were being fully integrated across a Carrier Strike Group. In other words, it seemed that these mysterious craft had a very keen interest in America's latest and greatest operational counter-air capabilities. . . .
We then got clarification from pilot witnesses on key claims about what they and their squadron mates had experienced before pursuing what was an inconvenient hypothesis for many—that at least some of what these aircrews and vessels were encountering were not an exotic unexplained phenomenon at all, but were in fact adversary drones and lighter-than-air platforms (balloons) meant to stimulate America's most capable air defense systems and collect extremely high-quality electronic intelligence data on them. . . .
These radar emissions, and the datalink communications that go along with them, underpin highly networked counter-air architectures that are unmatched anywhere on earth. By gathering comprehensive electronic intelligence information on these systems, countermeasures and electronic warfare tactics can be developed to disrupt or defeat them. Capabilities can also be accurately estimated and even cloned and tactics can be recorded and exploited. The very signatures of these waveforms alone can be used to identify, classify, and geolocate them by adversary platforms during a time of war, providing a big leg-up when it comes to battlespace awareness.
We are talking about everything from common operating frequencies to highly-sensitive low-probability of intercept emissions tactics, to datalink encryption, to distinct radar modes and employment procedures here. In other words, this is among the most critical intelligence a peer-state enemy can obtain and there aren't many easy ways of doing it. Even in a war zone, where aircraft and their systems are operating potentially in the same general area as adversary intelligence-collection systems, using their full combat capabilities may be restricted to maintain the secrets of those critical capabilities. Proximity to the emitters in question and how long their emissions are exposed to an intelligence-gathering system is a major limitation, as well. Traditional espionage is another way adversaries look to gain information on these critical systems, as well, but nothing beats going out and actually sucking up the electronic signatures as best you can. Actually becoming the target of their interest takes the quality of intelligence collected to a whole other level.